Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bautista-Silva: Reasonable Suspicion to Stop Suburban on I-95

In U.S. v. Bautista-Silva, No. 08-13803 (May 11, 2009) (2-1) (Barkett, J., dissenting), the Court reversed the district court’s suppression of statements and physical evidence obtained as a result of a traffic stop which resulted in the arrest of five illegal aliens from Mexico.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent was monitoring southbound interstate traffic on Interstate 95 in Brevard County, Florida, parked at a rest stop. He noticed a Chevrolet Suburban with five passengers on the highway, which seemed to get alongside a pick up truck as it passed by. The Suburban had California licence plates. When the agent drove onto the highway, the Suburban picked up its speed up to 90 miles per hour. When the agent caught up, the Suburban slowed down very quickly. The agent decelerated to maintain his position beside the Suburban, and tried to get the attention of the passengers. The passengers appeared nervous and did not acknowledge the agent. The agent stopped the Suburban.
The Court held that the agent had reasonable suspicion that the vehicle contained illegal aliens. The Court noted that the Suburban’s acceleration and deceleration were consistent with an attempt to evade, and, with the other evidence, gave rise to reasonable suspicion that the vehicle contained illegal aliens.